Short Stories Aren’t Less

For a great article on the power of the short story, read Carmen DeSousa’s blog.

“Short stories are a great way to meet an author without a long commitment or a nice release when you need just a little escape before going to bed, since there’s no risk of staying up too late to finish the story, as most short stories take less than an hour to read.”

— Carmen DeSousa

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Describe In Short

[found on io9.com; by CHARLIE JANE ANDERS]

“World-building should be quick and merciless.

In a novel, you can spend ten pages explaining how the 29th Galactic Congress established a Peacekeeping Force to regulate the use of interstitial jumpgates, and this Peacekeeping Force evolved over the course of a century to include A.I.s in its command structure, etc. etc.

In a short story, you really need to hang your scenery as fast as possible. My friend and mentor d.g.k. goldberg always cited the Heinlein line: “The door dilated,” which tells you a lot about the surroundings in three words. Little oblique references to stuff your characters take for granted can go a long way.

Make us believe there’s a world beyond your characters’ surroundings.

Even though you can’t spend tons of time on world-building, you have to include enough little touches to make us believe there’s stuff we’re not seeing. It’s like the difference between the fake house-fronts in a cowboy movie and actual houses. We should glimpse little bits of your universe, that don’t necessarily relate to your characters’ obsessions.”

For more writing tips from Charlie Jane Anders, click here.

[found on http://io9.com/366707/8-unstoppable-rules-for-writing-killer-short-stories]

The Art of Conflict

[found on huffingtonpost.com; by Writer’s Relief Staff]

“Learn the art of conflict. Creating a powerful conflict and weaving it tightly throughout the story is a tricky thing to master, and can take years of practice. The catharsis that a reader will experience at the resolution, however, is worth the struggle. Conflict is what makes us interested in outcome. And your conflict must affect your characters in a way that forces them to act and grow as a result. A story with a weak conflict that leaves the characters exactly as they were at the start won’t be satisfying; your story won’t make a lasting impression.

Here’s a tip: The best way to learn how to write conflict is by reading it. The next time you’re reading a short story or novel, take note of how the author presents the main conflict and the specific ways in which the characters react to it.”

[found on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/writing-tips-advice-fiction-authors_n_1628537.html]

Perfect Horror Short Story? Yes, please.

[found on fecklessgoblin.blogspot.com]
    1. Pick something that could happen to your reader.
    2. Pick a location that’s familiar to your reader.
    3. Eat, drink, sleep the horror that you have created before you actually begin to write. Lie back in a darkened room and really visualise it. Scare the pants off yourself.
    4. Go to your location or one that looks like it and sit there quietly for a while. If your story takes place on a quiet street in the early hours, find one, get up in the early hours and drink it up. Take a pad and write down some notes about what you see and how you feel.
    5. Try to see the story from three or four different views even if they won’t be in the final version. Choose someone timid, someone thick skinned, someone religious. The choice is yours.
    6. Take your time, build up the pressure, slowly but surely. This may be a short horror story but you’ve got more time than you think to lay out your stall.
    7. Stay focussed. Don’t get bogged down in back story. In fact, try giving back story a miss altogether.
    8. Anticipation is nine tenths of the horror story battle – let your reader know something bad is going to happen, lead them there by the hand.
    9. Dig deep into that horror. Choose one that scares you. If it doesn’t scare you, how do you expect it to scare the hell out of your dear reader?
    10. Throw a few red herrings in there, twist them on their heads. The old cat jumping out of the fridge is a bit of cliché but you get my drift.
    11. If you’re scared of heights, go and stand on the edge of a tall building and lean over, if you’ve got a spider phobia, go and put one on the palm of your hand. Remind yourself how real fear feels.
    12. Don’t overload your reader with gore. It becomes boring and they quickly attain sensitisation. A splash of blood here and there will do fine.
    13. Don’t over describe. You’re not Dickens. Give your reader some credit that they can imagine your ultimate horror. Don’t be afraid that they won’t get the point.
    14. Keep the monster/horror hidden for as long as possible.
    15. Read the best and the worst of horror. Reread the passages that got your heart racing and try to see how the author did it. Look at the way you reacted and imagine that’s what you want your reader to feel.
    16. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles. Write a couple of different versions of your story to see how it comes out.
    17. Leave your first draft for a decent amount of time so that you come back to it fresh. For some people that’s a couple of days. For others it’s a couple of months.
    18. Always, always read your draft through once without touching it before you sit down to edit.
    19. Check you have the right vocabulary to scare. Choose the words to describe your fear with care. Make sure they fit and sound right. Try not to use unusual words that your reader won’t readily know the meaning to. It will break the flow. You’re trying to build fear not a larger vocab.
    20. Don’t forget that your story isn’t written in stone. It can change. It can evolve. It can be totally different from the original. Don’t be afraid to delete stuff that doesn’t belong.